Welcome Your Neighbors
by Rev. Dustin Bartlett
January 14, 2017
CUSTER, SD – It’s a simple sign, and it’s popping up in yards all across the country. In three different languages, it reads “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” In many ways, it’s a sign of the times we live in.
It all started last year at a small, Mennonite church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The pastor and the people of Immanuel Mennonite Church were listening to the presidential campaign, and were profoundly disappointed with the rhetoric, especially the rhetoric which singled out and stereotyped people who weren’t members of the racial and religious majority. And so the members of the church worked together to hand-paint a simple, black-and-white sign. It read, “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”
Later, when a group of Mennonite pastors was looking for a project to spread some love and positivity, they learned about the sign and decided to produce a version that could be easily distributed. So they came up with the design pictured on this page, and printed them up as yard signs.
I heard about this on a story on NPR, and went online to see the signs for myself. That’s because I, too, was profoundly disappointed with the rhetoric of this most recent election season. For the first time in my lifetime, a major party candidate ran a campaign based on nativism and nationalism. And won.
So this week, the Custer Community Church ordered up some of these signs to put in our yard. We’ve also ordered a few extra to give away in the hopes that these signs which have been popping all across the country will start popping in Custer, too. We’re doing it because Jesus once told his disciples that how we welcome strangers is how we welcome him.
The signs should be ready in about a week. If you’d like to reserve one for yourself, you can call me at 605-673-4350.